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About The Book

In the eagerly anticipated sequel to Jamie Sumner’s acclaimed and beloved middle grade novel Roll with It, Ellie finds her own way to shine.

Ellie is so not the pageant type. They’re Coralee’s thing, and Ellie is happy to let her talented friend shine in the spotlight. But what’s she supposed to do when Coralee asks her to enter a beauty pageant, and their other best friend, Bert, volunteers to be their manager? Then again, how else is she going to get through this summer with her dad, who barely knows her, while her mom is off on her honeymoon with Ellie’s amazing gym teacher? Ellie decides she has nothing to lose.

There’s only one problem: the director of the pageant seems determined to put Ellie and her wheelchair front and center. So it’s up to Ellie to figure out a way to do it on her own terms and make sure her friendships don’t fall apart along the way. Through it all, from thrift store deep dives to disastrous dance routines, she begins to form her own definition of beauty and what it means to really be seen.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Time to Roll

By Jamie Sumner

About the Book

It’s going to be a long summer for twelve-year-old Ellie Cowan. Ellie’s mom just married Ellie’s favorite teacher and physical therapist, and they’re about to leave on a six-week honeymoon. That would be great news, except they’re leaving Ellie with her absentee dad while they’re gone. Ellie’s dad hardly knows her, and she hates that he treats her like she’s fragile because she uses a wheelchair. Plus, her two half-brothers create chaos in the house.

So, when Ellie’s best friend, Coralee, asks for Ellie’s help winning the Little Miss Boots and Bows pageant, Ellie agrees (even though pageants make her squirm). Coralee needs her, and at least the pageant will keep her out of the house and away from her dad. Things take a surprising turn, though, when the pageant director pressures Ellie to enter the pageant too. Ellie hates being in the spotlight, but being treated like an invalid by the director—and her dad—is even worse. Ellie decides to compete in the pageant, but can she find a way to do it on her own terms? And will her friendship with Coralee survive the competition?

Discussion Questions

1. Ellie, Coralee, and Bert are all very different from each other, but become best friends anyway. What do you think draws them to one another? Do you have a best friend or friends? How are you similar and different? Why are you drawn to one another?

2. In what ways are Bert, Coralee, and Ellie different from other kids? Have you ever felt like you were different from most of the people around you? What made you feel that way?

3. Who was your favorite character in this novel? Why? If you read Roll with It, who was your favorite character in that novel? If you had a different favorite character in each book, explain why your feelings changed.

4. Even though Ellie and Bert are not beauty pageant fans, they agree to help Coralee with the pageant. Why do they do this? Have you ever done something like this for a friend, or has a friend ever done something like this for you? What was it? How did it turn out?

5. Ellie thinks that “Coralee’s got her own kind of deep magic. But she’s determined not to see it until a committee tells her it’s true.” (Chapter fourteen) What does she mean by this? In what ways does Ellie think Coralee is magical? Why can’t Coralee see it herself?

6. When Coralee and Ellie get in a fight, they both end up saying things they regret later. What do they fight about? Why do you think they say mean things to each other? How do Ellie and Coralee eventually make up?

7. After Ellie and Coralee fight, Mema tells Ellie, “‘You only get one or two really good friends in a lifetime. I mean the kind that stick around through thick and thin and fightin’ and fun. One or two. Three, if you’re lucky. That’s it.’” (Chapter sixteen) How do you think a person can tell when they’ve found this type of friend?

8. Ellie says, “The thing about cerebral palsy is that I’ve lived with it every day of my life, so I’m used to it. But to the rest of the world, it’s a surprise. And not usually a good one.” (Chapter three) What does Ellie means by this? In what ways do people treat Ellie differently from other kids?

9. At the first Little Miss Boots and Bows Pageant rehearsal with Coralee, Ellie gets angry when the pageant director, Rae Ann, touches her wheelchair without permission. Why is this such an important boundary for Ellie?

10. People with disabilities are often treated differently because of stereotypes about what they are and are not capable of doing. Give some examples of this happening to Ellie from the novel. Why do you think people do this? What are some ways that you can work against these kinds of stereotypes?

11. Early in the book, Ellie thinks, “There is nothing, I repeat nothing, as satisfying as blasting through walls that were made to hold you back.” (Chapter three) What does Ellie mean by this? What walls has Ellie had to blast through? Have you ever had to blast through walls that were meant to hold you back? Explain.

12. Ellie thinks that pageants are almost like “cults” and doesn’t approve of them. Why does Ellie decide to do the pageant anyway? Why are pageants so important to Coralee?

13. After the pageant director’s attempt to set up a wheelchair ramp for Ellie ends in disaster, Ellie thinks, “It’s the roll of shame. Except they should be ashamed, not me—Rae Ann and Coralee and all of them with their deep looks of concern and not an ounce of understanding.” (Chapter eleven) What does Ellie mean by this? What don’t Coralee and Rae Ann understand?

14. After the incident with the wheelchair ramp, Ellie vows never to go back to the pageant. Coralee, however, says “‘This was just a teensy bump.’” (Chapter eleven) Why do you think Coralee can’t see the problem? How does it make Ellie feel?

15. Ellie’s new friend Maya tells her, “‘Life is a test. Make sure you take it on your own terms.’” (Chapter eighteen) What does Maya mean by this? What does it look like to take life on your own terms? Why do you think Maya shares this with Ellie?

16. What does Ellie do during the talent portion of the pageant? Were you surprised? Why do you think she chooses this as her talent? How do her friends and family react?

17. How does baking make Ellie feel? What in your life makes you feel like this?

18. Ellie believes that “Good food can . . . smooth over all the moods.” (Chapter eight) Do you agree with this statement? In what ways does good food help in your life?

19. What is Ellie’s relationship like with her dad? How is it different from Ellie’s relationship with her mom? Do you ever struggle to relate to your parents or other adults in your life? Why? How do you navigate that?

20. Ellie believes her dad thinks she’s “pathetic.” Do you think she’s right? Do you think Ellie’s dad is as bad as she thinks he is? Provide evidence from the book to support your answer.

21. Ellie claims that she is “the opposite of a needy kid . . . fully self-sufficient.” (Chapter four) Is she? Do you think anyone is fully self-sufficient? Explain.

22. If you’ve read the first book in the series, Roll with It, how do you think Ellie has changed since that book? How is she the same?

Extension Activities

1. In Time to Roll, Ellie discovers that the theater where the Little Miss Boots and Bows Pageant is held is not accessible for her wheelchair. Research what is needed to make a space accessible for people in wheelchairs (or another disability of your choice). Then, create a poster or report assessing the accessibility of important places in your community: your school, your local park, the grocery store, YMCA, etc. If you’d like, you can include video clips or photographs in your report.

2. Throughout both Roll with It and Time to Roll, Ellie writes letters to famous bakers. Discuss with a partner or small group why you think Ellie does this. Then write a letter to a public figure who is important to you.

3. Design your own beauty pageant. What would you call your pageant? What events would it have? What do you think are the key things that show you someone is worthy of being celebrated? Create a poster advertising your pageant.

4. Choose a supporting character from the book and write a short story about an event in that person’s life: Coralee, Maya, Bert, Mema, Ellie’s mom, etc. Be sure to think about what your chosen character is like as a person, what’s important to them, and what challenges they might face.

5. Imagine you are Bert or Coralee. Write a letter to a friend describing your friend Ellie. If you’d like, you can draw or paint a picture of Ellie to include with your letter.

6. Create a “book commercial” encouraging other kids to read Time to Roll. You can do this either as a poster or a video. Be sure to give potential readers a good sense of what the book is about and why they will enjoy reading it.

7. The pageant director, Rae Ann, calls Ellie her “role model” because “‘She might be wheelchair-bound, but she gets up there on that stage and works just as hard as the rest of them.’” (Chapter eighteen) Ellie is deeply offended by this: “Wheelchair-bound? Is she kidding me? Like my chair is some torture device instead of the means of freedom that lets me navigate my entire life?” Research the technology available to assist people with disabilities today, and then write an essay about the ways that technology can help people with disabilities navigate the world.

Chris Clark is a writer and reading teacher who lives with her family in coastal Maine.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Author

Photograph © Bethany Rogers

Jamie Sumner is the author of Roll with ItTime to Roll, Rolling OnTune It OutOne Kid’s TrashThe Summer of JuneMaid for ItDeep Water, and Please Pay Attention. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other publications. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She is also the mother of a son with cerebral palsy and has written extensively about parenting a child with special needs. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 4, 2023)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665918619
  • Ages: 10 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for Roll with It

“A big-hearted story that’s as sweet as it is awesome.” —R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder

"Ellie is filled with ideas for delicious baked goods, but she can’t quite figure out the recipe to make her family feel whole again. Filled with heart and spirit—I love this book.” —Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, author of The Story Collector series and A Dog Like Daisy

"My son Jacob says: 'I usually read books about wizards and magic, but I liked this a lot. I liked the scenes and I wanted to hang out with Ellie. I'm reading it a second time now.'"—Deb Perelman, creator of Smitten Kitchen

* "Drawing on her own experiences with her son, who has cerebral palsy, debut author Sumner doesn’t sugarcoat Ellie’s daily challenges—social, emotional, and physical—including navigating showers and crowded classrooms. . . . Ellie is easy to champion, and her story reminds readers that life’s burdens are always lighter with friends and family—and a good piece of pie—at the ready."

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “Her voice equal parts vulnerable, reflective, and deliciously wry, Ellie is refreshingly complex. Kids navigating disabilities may find her frank frustration with inaccessibility, illness, and patronization particularly cathartic, but readers with and without disabilities will recognize her desire to belong. The mother of a son with CP, the author portrays Ellie and her mom's loving but fraught relationship with achingly vivid accuracy, bringing the tension between Ellie's craving for independence and her mother's fears to a satisfying resolution. . . . An honest, emotionally rich take on disability, family, and growing up.”

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “Ellie takes on life head first, and her first-person, present-tense narrative reveals a feisty, dynamic character surrounded by well-rounded characters just as appealing as she is. The plot moves swiftly, and it's refreshing that the story's focus is less on Ellie's disability and more on her gradual ability to learn how to ‘roll with’ the situations that life throws one's way.”

– Booklist, starred review

“A heartfelt and humorous glimpse into the life of a girl with cerebral palsy who is determined to make her mark on a world that often perceives her as limited because of her disability. . . . The challenges faced by youth like Ellie are underrepresented in children’s literature; highly recommended for middle grade collections.”

– School Library Journal

“Sumner, whose son has cerebral palsy, writes Ellie without sitcom clichés and with authentic near-teen sass. The telling details of wheelchair use, health risks, and social challenges ring true but don’t overshadow the characterization of Ellie as a person, who loves to bake even more than she likes to snark and whose narration is spirited and inviting. Fans of Kate DiCamillo will especially appreciate this story of unexpected friendship and belonging.”


Awards and Honors

  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title

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More books from this author: Jamie Sumner

More books in this series: Roll with It